<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:13:22 -0700 Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:13:22 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Plane Crash Hero Recounts Fiery Rescue]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:54:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Robert-Sears-2.jpg

A Good Samaritan who rushed to the aid of two people after a small airplane crashed in a Kearny Mesa parking lot said he reacted quickly because he wasn’t about to watch two people die before his eyes.

“We ran over and stopped and saw [the plane] was on fire. Then we saw the people inside and we thought, ‘We’re not going to watch two people burn alive.’ That’s when [we] ran over to do what we could,” witness Robert Sears, 24, told NBC 7 on Friday.

Sears – an employee at the Costco Business Center on Convoy Street, a building located right next to the site of the plane crash – had arrived at work on Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. and was talking with a friend when they suddenly heard the crash.

When he ran into the parking lot of the shopping center, Sears saw the wreckage of the fixed wing, single-engine Mooney M20L, which had landed near parked cars but away from the main entrances to stores.

The aircraft had missed bystanders on the ground, but a pilot and her passenger remained inside.

Sears said someone handed his friend a fire extinguisher and as his friend sprayed the plane, they both tried repeatedly to open the aircraft’s only door, located on the passenger side of the plane.

When it finally opened, the men were able to get the passenger’s seat belt unfastened and get her out of the plane.

But they still had to get the pilot out, which proved difficult given the position of the door.

“There was still fire and everything. My buddy, Roy, he kept spraying. There were people on the other side of the airplane who were able to reach their arms inside the window and get the [pilot’s] seat belt undone. I was able to get halfway into the cockpit and then get her out,” Sears recounted.

“There were people behind me, so when I pulled her out they were able to take her and carry her to the sidewalk,” he continued.

With bandages on his hands covering his second-degree burns, Sears said he could not have helped save the women from the wreckage alone.

The pilot of the airplane, identified by family members as Devon Logan, 52, survived the crash. Her passenger, 78-year-old Joy Gorian, suffered serious burns and later died at the hospital.

On Friday, NBC 7 spoke at length with the pilot’s husband, who said Devon had undergone more surgery and was still recovering at the hospital. He said his wife’s injuries included a broken ankle, knee and tibia, as well as cuts and bruises.

The husband told NBC 7 that Devon is aware that she didn’t hurt any bystanders with her crash landing, but feels guilt about Gorian’s death. Gorian was Devon’s mother, her husband said.

The husband, who was too grief-stricken to go on camera, said the people who helped his family, including Sears, are the ones who should be getting the attention. He’s extremely thankful to all of the Good Samaritans who stepped in to help and hopes to connect with the heroes in person.

Sears said he would love to meet the Logans someday and wishes nothing but the best for Devon as she recovers.

“I just hope she gets better. I hope she’s okay and her family [is okay] because of everything,” he added. “I’d love to see her.”

The plane crash remains under investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) taking the lead.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Man Denies Creating Phony Fundraiser in Slain Officer's Name]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:03:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sami+saeed.JPG

 The Escondido man suspected of using a police officer’s death to create a bogus fundraising website has pleaded not guilty to charges against him.

Sami Ahmed Saeed, 25, was charged with nine felonies Friday after prosecutors say he set up a phony GoFundMe.com site in the name of Officer Laura Perez, whose body was found in a Morena Valley storage unit last week.

Police say Perez was shot by her husband, Freddy Perez-Rodas, who tried to hide her body and burn down their house to cover the crime.

Prosecutors say the day after detectives found Perez’s body, Saeed set up a fake website that lists Perez’s daughter and family as the fundraiser’s recipients.

No one had donated to the account before Saeed was arrested and the GoFundMe website was removed.

“The administrators at GoFundMe.com indicated that there were other web pages set up by using the same identifiers from Mr. Saeed to illicit donations for a little girl who has cancer, and that little girl is unnamed and that web page has also been taken down,” said Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn.

A search of Saeed’s apartment turned up stolen credit cards and machine used to make phony ID cards and credit cards, according to police.

Saeed had denied the allegations against him.

Escondido Police say the suspect apparently worked for the U.S. military, and his friend from Ohio confirmed that Saeed was an Arabic translator for U.S. troops during the Iraq War.

After his arraignment Friday, he now faces four counts of identity theft, three counts of passing a fraudulent check, one count of possession of a forged identity and one count of receiving stolen property.

Saeed is being held in jail on a $250,000 bond.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Amended Lawsuit: Zahau Beaten, Pushed Off Balcony]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:49:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Rebecca-Zahau-0315.jpg

A $10 million civil lawsuit claiming Rebecca Zahau’s death was a murder, not a suicide, has been amended to allege new details of how three people conspired to kill her, beating, gagging and strangling Zahau before pushing her off a balcony.

The wrongful death lawsuit, originally filed in July 2013 by Zahau’s family, was amended last month by attorney Keith Greer. On Friday, all attorneys involved in the case met to discuss details and future court dates.

On July 13, 2011, the nude body of Zahau, 32, was found bound and hanging from a balcony at the famous Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. A cryptic message written in black paint was found just outside the second-story room in the house, which read: “She saved him. Can you save her.”

Her death came two days after her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son, Max Shacknai, fatally fell at the home while under Zahau’s watch.

Though the circumstances of Zahau’s death were deemed suspicious at first, homicide investigators with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department ultimately concluded that Zahau had committed suicide by hanging.

When Sheriff Bill Gore and his detectives revealed the results of their investigation in September 2011, sources told NBC 7 that investigators believed Zahau felt tremendous guilt over Max’s death, leading to her suicide.

Over the past three years, Zahau’s family has been very vocal about the case, refusing to accept the suicide ruling.

In May 2013, the Zahau family and their attorneys filed a lawsuit demanding the case be reopened. While the family didn’t identify potential suspects, they claimed all evidence in the case points to homicide. The family maintained that Zahau did not blame herself for Max’s death and was not suicidal.

The family’s amended civil lawsuit blames three people in connection with the murder of Zahau. This includes her boyfriend’s brother, Adam Shacknai, the last person to see Zahau alive who also found her hanging body and called officials. It also names her boyfriend’s ex, Dina Shacknai, and Dina’s sister, Nina Romano. The lawsuit details how they allegedly killed Zahau.

“On or around the morning of July 13, 2011, defendants Adam, Dina and Nina, and each of them, conspired to plan, and did in fact, enter into a common scheme of conduct with the intent to murder Rebecca in Coronado, California,” the lawsuit states.

The document goes on to claim that the trio struck Zahau “on the head multiple times with a blunt instrument,” physically restrained her, gagged her, bound her and strangled her “to the point of unconsciousness or death.”

The lawsuit alleges the defendants then placed a rope noose around Zahau’s neck, tied the other end of the rope to a bed, carried Zahau to the balcony of the bedroom and pushed her over the railing.

“During the course of the conspiracy to murder Rebecca, each of the defendants also kept watch to avoid detection and removed evidence of the acts which they committed, including wiping down objects they had touched in order to remove DNA and fingerprints,” the document states.

It continues: “As a further ploy to cover up their wrongdoing, and in furtherance of their common scheme, defendants painted the following words on the inside of the door near the balcony where she was left hanging: She saved him. Can you save her.”

The amended lawsuit claims Dina and Nina “aggressively confronted” Zahau on July 12, 2011, at the Coronado mansion about Max’s deadly fall.

Zahau tried to run away, the document claims, but before she could run Dina and Nina allegedly struck her four times on the back of the head with a blunt object, rendering her unconscious.

The Zahau family believes that at this time, Adam – who was sleeping in the guest house at the mansion – woke up and walked in on the scene. The trio then allegedly conspired to kill Zahau and cover it up. The lawsuit claims the women killed Zahau and ordered Adam to write the cryptic message on the door.

The document mentions Max’s death as a possible motive for the murder, as well Dina’s alleged jealously of Zahau’s relationship with Jonah Shacknai. It also claims the defendants were motivated to kill Zahau “in order to keep her from disclosing matters that could prove extremely embarrassing to the
defendants and their families.”

In a document filed by Dina’s attorneys, she dismisses the amended complaint, saying she cannot be held liable for Zahau’s death.

The document from Dina’s camp calls the Zahau family’s allegations “salacious,” as well as ambiguous and confusing.

“The fictional new story alleged an implausible time line relative to the alleged conspiracy,” the document states. “It nowhere describes how the alleged conspiracy was formed, when it was formed, how the alleged co-conspirators communicated their consent to the purported agreement, or any meeting of the minds of the alleged co-conspirators essential to a civil conspiracy.”

The document goes on to call the plaintiff’s allegations “meaningless to a properly alleged conspiracy claim” and adds that the new claims “directly contradict the Coroner and is not plausible when applying common sense and context of this being the plaintiff’s fifth attempt to prepare an adequate complaint.”

Photo Credit: Rebecca Zahau Fund]]>
<![CDATA[Realtor Used Code Words to Plan Sex With Girl, 13]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:57:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/court-stock-courtroom-gavel-judge.jpg

 A San Diego realtor admitted to paying for sex with a 13-year-old girl, using “bookstore” and “library” as code words to arrange meet-ups, according to his plea agreement released Thursday.

Michael Lustig, 70, pleaded guilty to three counts of interstate travel aid of racketeering enterprises, which are prostitution-related charges.

According to U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, interviews with two minors revealed Lustig had hired an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl separately for commercial sex.

Surveillance video from an El Cajon motel caught Lustig entering a room with one of the girls and emerging about 43 minutes later, court documents show.

The girls told officials they knew the suspect as “George” and had been paid by him for sexual activity, even after at least one of the girls told him she was a minor.

San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies first contacted Lustig in June 2012 as they were targeting prostitution customers in the Encinitas area.

When he was arrested, deputies seized two cell phones from him, which confirmed he had been in contact with the two minors, Duffy says.

However, Lustig’s plea agreement just details his interactions with the 13-year-old girl between Oct. 2011 and June 2012.

For example, on Oct. 15, 2011, he texted the girl, “Hey, is the bookstore open? I’m in desperate need of books rite now,” according to his plea. Lustig admitted the words like “bookstore” and “library” were codes for commercial sex.

A federal grand jury initially charged Lustig with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and criminal forfeiture in Oct. 2013, but the charges were revised in his plea agreement.

Lustig now faces a total of 15 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release at his sentencing, set for Nov. 3, 2014.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Del Mar: Track Not Hurting Horses]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:51:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Del-Mar-Track-Generic-0801.jpg

After an eighth horse in two weeks was injured racing on Del Mar’s turf track, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has temporarily closed the track again to make safety modifications, though the club said Friday it is convinced the turf is unrelated to the horse injuries.

The horse was injured Thursday during the seventh race of the day, and has been hospitalized following seven other injuries the first ten days of the racing season at Del Mar. Seven of the eight horses have been euthanized. The spate of injuries has raised concerns about the safety of the track.

“It is unusual, that many deaths in such a short amount of time,” Mike Marten, spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board, said this week. Historically far more injuries occur on dirt than on grass turf, Marten added.

Del Mar said the condition of the track is not to blame for the injuries.

“We continue to believe that we have a good turf course; however, incidents and public perception are a tough thing to fight against,” Mac McBride, the Director of Media for Del Mar, said on Friday. “If you go back and look at this incident Thursday, this poor little filly was put in a race where she absolutely did not belong. She was forced to run very very hard against very superior competition.” 


McBride said in an interview earlier this week that the turf was not in need of adjustments and that jockeys provided positive feedback about the track racing conditions despite the enduring horse injuries, calling it firm and good for the horses to race on. But because of the frequency of the recent horse injuries, Del Mar decided to modify the track, closing it for three days from July 27 to 30th and moving the scheduled turf races to the Polytrack.

During those days, McBride said the turf track underwent three basic adjustments: moving the inner rail, aerating the course, and giving it extra water. Also, the inner rail was moved out to the 18-foot position instead of the planned 12-foot position.

“We decided to err on the side of safety and move it out to the 18-foot marker. This gave us a very fresh, very firm inside rail position,” McBride said.

Additionally, Del Mar aerated the entire course, loosening the turf slightly and making it a little softer, McBride said, adding that they raised their watering level to soften it even further.

Marten explained that the investigators were reviewing the films of the races, interviewing the jockeys, trainers and owners, and reading veterinary reports to determine if there were any pre-existing conditions that contributed to the horses' injuries. This is standard protocol for any race horse death investigation, Marten said.

The CHRB investigated the turf conditions by taking various measurements, such as the degree of compaction and moisture content of the turf, using specialized instruments, and then analyzing and comparing their data. The turf inspection concluded on Tuesday and CHRB deemed the track safe to race on.

On Wednesday, the first day of racing on the modified track, no horses were injured. But the following day during the seventh race, a filly broke down, prompting Del Mar to suspend turf racing for another three to five days in order to aerate and water the track to soften it further.

“We must try to do everything we can to make what we feel is a safe course even safer. We must take a time out here to allow everyone to catch a deep breath to allow people who are agitated by this, understandably so, to take a step back. Its a very upsetting to us,” McBride said.

Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director of the CHRB who advises on all matters relating to equine health and welfare and drug testing in the state, said on Friday that the turf track is likely not the reason for these horse injuries, but it may be a contributing factor.

“It’s seldom one thing,” that causes a racehorse’s injury, Arthur said. “Bottom line is 85 to 90 percent of horses have some pre-existing pathology. And when I say pre-existing pathology, much of that is microscopic and undetectable by current diagnostic procedures in veterinary medicine. That doesn't mean we aren’t trying.” 

Arthur and McBride explained that the horses are subject to thorough and frequent evaluations and observations in the days prior to racing, on racing day, and occasionally after the race to rule out any health concerns.

California state law mandates that all racehorses undergo a necropsy, or horse autopsy, to determine the cause of the horse’s death or injury that required euthanasia. Nine horses have died this season at Del Mar and all are being investigated, but completing the necropsies can take as few as a couple weeks and as long as several months.

“Myself and others have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to sort out what the issues are and trying to make the track surface as safe as can be and the entire racing experience as safe as can be," Arthur said.

Del Mar hopes to be able to re-open the turf track late next week, McBride said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Del Mar to Reduce Turf Races by Third]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:54:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Del-Mar-Horse-Track-warmup.jpg

 Seven race-related horse fatalities and one serious injury are leading to major changes at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, with the track's chief operating officer addressing concerns.

Late Friday afternoon, track administrators announced maintenance schedules that will reduce turf track races by one-third, allowing for additional, aggressive up-keep.

Track racing is suspended through next Friday, not just this weekend.

Plus, Del Mar officials plan to hire a track consultant.

For the first time since this rash of injuries – five on the turf and three on the main track – Chief Operating Officer Josh Rubenstein is speaking out about this year's season.

Rubenstein said because the turf track is new, the surface is harder, but that could not be the only reason for so many injuries.

The COO said overall, jockeys and trainers like the course.

“The feedback we're getting from the jockeys about this course is that it is very safe. It is a little on the firm side but it is a safe turf course. Horses are getting over it in a good way,” Rubenstein said.

Former racehorse owner Bert Ellis gave NBC 7 a glimpse into ownership.

He said losing a horse is a lot like losing a child.

“Now the thrill is coming that he is in a race and he might go and win. That's a big thrill. If a horse goes down like that, you're really worried. It’s like your kid got hurt. That's the way I look at it,” Ellis said.

Rubenstein said the new turf has shallow ruts. He hopes aerating, regular watering and limited use will help the surface develop faster.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Convention Center Plan Is Unconstitutional: Judges]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:40:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Luke-Convention-Center.jpg

 The city of San Diego’s plan to expand its convention center could be dead in the water after a court of appeals ruled the funding strategy for the $520 million project is unconstitutional.

The panel of judges decided Friday that surcharges hoteliers planned to collect on room rates needs to go to a citywide vote.

Two years ago, hotel owners voted to self-assess a fee of 1 to 3 percent to be paid by hotel guests. That surcharge would fund the bulk of the center expansion, and the plan sailed through the San Diego City Council with a 7-1 approval.

However, opponents -- including San Diegans for Open Government (SDOG) -- took the issue to San Diego County Superior Court, arguing the tax is illegal because those who will pay the fee did not get a vote on it.

In March 2013, Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager sided with the city. He ruled the funding mechanism is a legitimate method of generating money to cover construction costs for community facilities.

Challengers soon requested an appeal, which landed the case on the Court of Appeals desk this year.

On Friday, opponents got the ruling they were hoping for: the plan is unconstitutional.

The appeals judges, who voted unanimously against the plan, wrote in its conclusion, "while we understand the City would like to expand the convention center, we are duty bound to uphold the provisions of the California Constitution and the City Charter that require that the City’s registered voters approve the special tax at issue in this case."

Cory Briggs, an attorney for SDOG, said the surcharge should have needed the approval of two-thirds of San Diego’s electorate, not just hoteliers.

"Because if you just ask the people who benefit from taxes to approve them, you're completely leaving out the people who bear the burden of the tax,” said Briggs.

Thomas Mitchell, a spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, said the 2012 city council and mayor was testing legal boundaries when it agreed to the funding system.

On Friday, he echoed what his office stated in 2012, that “the most reliable way to impose this tax is to place it on the general ballot. Two and a half years later, it still is.”

But now, the future of the convention center is up in the air, possibly jeopardizing future events.

For example, the contract with Comic-Con International – a $178 million cash cow for the city – is set to expire in 2016, and without a bigger space, organizers could decide to relocate the mother ship.

Former Mayor and Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders weighed in on the ruling Friday, calling it a “great loss for our city.”

“It is unfortunate that this project will now be delayed even further, increasing the strain on our city’s ability to attract convention business that bolsters the economy and creates thousands of jobs for San Diegans,” Sanders said in a statement.

The city must now decide if it wants to appeal the court’s ruling to the California State Supreme Court or revise its plan to fund the convention center expansion.

<![CDATA[Hotel Del Celebrates Wizard of Oz]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:45:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Wizard-of-Oz-Generic.jpg

San Diego’s seaside City of Coronado will feel more like the Emerald City this month as the Hotel Del Coronado celebrates the 50th Annual “Wizard of Oz” Convention.

The “Winkie Con,” as it’s called, will be held at the iconic red-topped hotel on Aug. 8-10 but the week leading up to the big convention is also jam-packed with Oz-inspired activities.

For instance, every Sunday during the month of August the Hotel Del Coronado will host “Yappy House,” a free happy hour gathering for animal and Oz enthusiasts.

While owners enjoy themed cocktails like the “Ruby Slipper,” dogs can lap up free Evian water and organic “yappetizer” treats. Yappy Hour will be held on the hotel’s Sun Deck Bar & Grill on Orange Avenue from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This Sunday hotel guests and visitors can put on their best Dorothy, Tin Man or Scarecrow get-up and enter the Oz-themed costume contest. Prizes include a 2-night stay at the hotel and gift cards.

In addition, from July 28 through Aug. 31 Hotel Del Coronado will host a “Toto Photo” contest. Participants can follow @DelCoronado on Instagram and share photos of their pet in an Oz-themed costume for a chance to win a Del Beach Day Package with cabana and chair set-up service.

The hotel will also host “Wizard of Oz” walking tours all this week, as well as a special screening Thursday of the classic 1939 film.

Historically, Coronado has many connections to L. Frank Baum, the creator and writer of “The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Baum spent many winters at the Hotel Del Coronado and rented a house in the community where he wrote “The Road to Oz.”

San Diego’s La Jolla community also served as inspiration for Baum as he began developing the story for “The Scarecrow of Oz.”

For more details on Winkie Con, including an interactive schedule of events, visit the convention website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roller Coaster Gets Stuck in NJ]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:42:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/nj+nitro+gets+stuck.jpg

A roller coaster billed as a "maximum thrill-level," "gut-munching" ride at a Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey got stuck on its way up to the 230-feet-high peak, forcing passengers to exit the ride and walk down alongside the tracks. 

Officials at the Great Adventure park in Jackson said the Nitro roller coaster experienced a power failure as it was approaching the incline Friday afternoon. 

Park personnel climbed the access stairs to remove the passengers on the stuck coaster and walked them safely down to ground level, officials said. 

No one was hurt.

The ride was shut down for the remainder of Friday night. It's not clear when it will reopen. 

According to the amusement park's website, the first hill on the Nitro is 233 feet high. The coaster reaches 80 miles per hour as it zooms into the second hill, about 180 feet high. 

<![CDATA[Bandit Dons Wig, Demands $100s]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:32:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BB-100S-1.jpg Suspects in area bank robberies - caught in the act on camera.

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[Summer Phone Repairs Prove Costly]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:16:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/brokencellphone.jpg

Bernadeta Thenoux only had her new iPhone for two days before she dropped it.

“Because of the shorts you’re always carrying it in a hand or small tiny shorts that doesn’t even fit,” said Thenoux.

But she’s getting a new screen and Christopher Luna is getting a lot of business.

“July and August is like my prime time, I’m just non-stop busy,” said Luna, owners of i-Geeks in Pacific Beach.

Independent iPhone repair shops like his have been growing around the country. As more people carry the popular phones they’re looking cheaper and faster ways to fix broken screens.

“I heard the crack and I knew is was gone,” said Heejin Marshall.

She says she needed someone who could fix her phone while she waited.

Luna says he can generally replace an iPhone screen in about 15 minutes, with a charge of between $65 and $100 dollars depending on the model.

Luna says the most common ways people break their phones are dropping them when they get out of a car, children throwing them and having then slip out of a pocket or purse.

In the summer, water damage increases when phones drop into the ocean, pools and toilets.

“I ask them to sanitize it before they come in first of all,” said Luna.

And while Bernadeta is happy to have a new screen on her phone, will this be the last time she drops it?

“I’m going to try to be more careful obviously, But I’m sure it’s going to happen again,” said Thenoux

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[6 Tons of Marijuana Seized From 2 Panga Boats]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:02:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/140729-G-ZZ999-003.jpg

The U.S. Coast Guard discovered six tons of marijuana and four suspected smugglers floating in two panga boats off San Diego this week.

A crew on a C-130 Hercules aircraft spotted the boats about 180 miles southwest of the San Diego coast Tuesday night.

Three Coast Guard cutters were sent out to intercept the suspected smuggling operation.

As they approached the pangas, four suspects hopped into one boat and sped away, abandoning the second one.

However, the chase did not last long, and Coast Guard crews soon arrested the suspects.

On the abandoned panga, law enforcement found 491 bales of marijuana, weighing about 12,000 pounds.

The four suspects were taken to San Diego for prosecution, and the weed was handed over to the Marine Task Force Friday morning.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard]]>
<![CDATA[20 Abused Pit Bulls Saved: NYPD]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:56:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DSC_6282.JPG

Twenty allegedly abused pit bulls were taken from a Queens home Thursday as the NYPD's newly formed Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad helped bust an alleged dog-fighting ring. 

Members of the squad, along with officers from NYPD's 113th Precinct and the ASPCA's Forensic Investigative Team, executed a search warrant inside a St. Albans home Thursday afternoon as part of a dog-fighting investigation, police said. 

Investigators found 20 starved and scarred pit bulls inside the home. The dogs were all taken to the ASPCA's main office for medical care. 

Two suspects living in the home, Addison Holder, 44, and Keisha Hall, 33, were each charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty and animal fighting, as well as criminal possession of a controlled substance for methamphetamine found in the house, police said.

It wasn't immediately clear if Holder and Hall had attorneys. 

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Wants Changing Tables For Dads]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:54:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/baby21.jpg

Parents' groups and a California lawmaker are pushing for a statewide proposed legislation to ensure baby changing stations are available to both men and women in public facilities, in what they say is an effort to promote gender equality.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Huntington Park/Long Beach, is backing SB 1350, also known as the Potty Parity for Parents Act, the first proposition of its kind in the country.

If passed, it would require baby changing stations to be installed in men’s restrooms if one is installed in an adjacent women’s restroom, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Also backing the bill are several moms, dads and equal rights groups.

“Anything that talks about fatherhood in a good way is something that I want to get behind,” said Doyin Richards, founder of daddydoinwork.com.

Richards, a father of two young girls, said installing baby changing stations in men’s restrooms should be common sense.

He splits parenting responsibilities with his partner and has resorted to changing his 1-year-old in the trunk of his car. A few times, a good Samaritan has held open the women’s restroom for him, allowing him to change his daughters on the changing table, he said.

"The drama we have to go through just to change a diaper is just ludicrous in this day and age,” he said. “When a kid has a blowout, there is no bigger deal to a dad.”

Currently, a broad regulation stands where restrooms are only required in public facilities "to meet the needs of the public at peak hours."

SB1350 would also require family restrooms with changing stations to be accessible to both men and women.

<![CDATA[2 Dead in East County Boat Accident]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:22:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Boat-Crash-El-Capitan-Reser.jpg

Two people have died after two boats collided at a reservoir in San Diego's East County, according to San Diego County Sheriff's officials.

Officials say a blue and white Nitro boat was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crashed into a smaller, stationary boat around 7:15 p.m. Thursday along the north arm of El Capitan Reservoir near the east shore.

Fisherman Todd Holverson was in the area called Tree Hole when he says the Nitro came speeding through the area.

"I raised my hands up at them and they raised their hands back like it was fun and games and as soon as I turned my head I heard them hit," he said.

Both boats flipped officials said, throwing all four people involved into the water.

Another boat on the water came to help and pulled two men from the Nitro boat out of the water. They had minor cuts and bruises and were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, officials said.

Investigators have updated their information, saying a 21-year-old man from the stationary boat died in the crash. A fourth person, a 20-year-old man who was on the same boat, was found in the water hours later.

Expert divers were on scene late Thursday preparing to look for the boater reported missing but they were being cautious because of the inherent danger involved for searchers.

Ten divers resumed the search around 9 a.m. Friday, trying to make their way through water with poor visibility.

Finally, around 12:30 p.m., the missing 20-year-old man was found dead in about 33 feet of water. 

Marine Safety Captain Nick Lerma with San Diego Lifeguards said he was not sure if the people involved were wearing safety vests. He also said it was not known if alcohol or drugs were a factor.

The dive team expects to remain at the crash site through Friday afternoon, searching for debris evidence. 

The reservoir is located just north of Alpine and is popular with boaters.

Lerma said there is no speed limit along this section of the reservoir however the area was just converted into a no wake zone a couple months ago due to the recent drop in water levels. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Addition by Subtraction Works for Padres]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:39:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/solarte+braves+preview.jpg

The waiting is over. Now it’s time to get on with the rest of the season.

Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed with just one more casualty from the Padres roster – outfielder Chris Denorfia, whose much-anticipated ticket out of town was punched with a deal involving the Seattle Mariners.

Now, barring any minor waiver wire trades, the core of the team is set for the season until the September call-ups arrive.

Really, the addition by subtraction has gone pretty well. Since the Padres announced the trade of closer Huston Street on July 18, they are 7-6 and have won three of four series. They've also been hitting the ball, scoring nearly 5 1/2 runs per game over their past nine. This from a team that has been shut out more than anyone else this season.

The only series loss since the trades started going down came to the Atlanta Braves last weekend. Conveniently, that same team comes to Petco this weekend for a rematch. The Braves are in the middle of a playoff race while the Padres teeter on the edge of fourth place in the National League West. But now they’re ridin’ lean with a revamped roster. Will they continue to find success?

Let’s break down the weekend.

Friday, 7:10 p.m.:
Eric Stults (L, 3-13, 5.22) vs. Mike Minor (L, 4-6, 5.23)
Could anybody use a victory more than Stults? He has one win since May 10. He took the loss (big surprise) against the Braves last weekend, giving up six runs in as many innings. Minor got the win against the Padres last weekend, but gave up six earned runs in his two previous starts.

Saturday, 5:40 p.m.: Ian Kennedy (R, 8-9, 3.66) vs. Ervin Santana (R, 10-6, 3.63)
Now that all the trade rumors are over, Kennedy can just focus on pitching. It hasn’t been a problem lately, as he has won three straight.  Santana has also won three straight, racking up double-digit strikeouts in his last two starts.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: Tyson Ross (R, 10-10, 2.60) vs. Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.43)
It would be a shame if Ross doesn’t at least get some consideration for the NL Cy Young. He now has eight straight quality starts, is sixth in the league in ERA and tied for fourth with 150 strikeouts. #TyforCy. It’s a homecoming for Harang, who played high school ball at Patrick Henry High and in college at San Diego State. He also has a four-game win streak and hasn’t lost in over a month.

What’s at stake: It’s sweep or bust for the Padres if they want to win the season series over the Braves after dropping three of four in Atlanta last weekend. They are also dangerously close to getting passed by the Diamondbacks for third place, leading by just half a game. Not that it matters much, as the Dodgers are once again run making a late-season run with six straight wins. They have a 3 ½ game lead on the Giants.

Meanwhile, the Braves lead the race for the second wild card spot and trail the Washington Nationals by just 1 ½ games for the division lead. Of course, they are no strangers to the playoffs, having made the postseason two of the last three years.

Who to watch:
Infielder Yangervis Solarte is making himself right at home after coming over in the Chase Headley deal. He is hitting .324 in nine games with the team, including a four-hit night on Wednesday. Outfielder Seth Smith is coming off a July where he was among the league leaders with a .358 average – although he has cooled off this week with just a pair of hits in his last 15 at-bats. And how about second baseman Jedd Gyorko, finally coming out of a season-long slump with six hits and two homers against the Cardinals this week. His average is still just .183 on the season.

Braves: Outfielder Justin Upton leads the team with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs. He has a hit in his last five games. First baseman Freddie Freeman leads the team and is seventh in the NL with 28 doubles. Rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella leads the team with a .294 average.

Coming up: It’s back to the road as the Padres visit Minnesota and Pittsburgh next week before returning home to play the Rockies on Aug. 11.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Late SoCal Firefighter Took Ecstasy]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:47:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/firefighter-mike-herdman-arcadia.jpg

The Southern California firefighter who went missing during a mountain camping trip and was later found dead had Ecstasy and alcohol in his system when he died, according to a toxicology report obtained by NBC4 Friday.

Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman, 36, disappeared June 13 in the Los Padres National Forest near Fillmore with a friend and fellow firefighter. His body was found June 27 on a cliff above the Sespe River in rugged terrain less than a mile from where he was last seen.

Herdman's blood tested positive for amphetamine, ethanol (drinking alcohol), caffeine, MDA and MDMA (Ecstasy), the report stated.

Herdman's death was ruled accidental and caused by "blunt force injuries," the Ventura County medical examiner said last month.

Officials found evidence at the campsite that alcohol and ADHD pharmaceutical drug Adderall were consumed, Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Buschow told NBC4 Friday.

A small bag with a residue consistent with an illicit drug was also found, but deputies did not know the drug was Ecstasy until the toxicology report was completed, Buschow said.

It was not clear what the findings suggest about how Herdman died. Calls to the medical examiner regarding the toxicology report were not immediately returned.

<![CDATA[Weekend Events for July 31-August 3]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:33:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kid-sprinkler-wtaer.jpg

Here’s your challenge for August (if you choose to accept): Resolve to do something new every weekend. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Thursday, July 31

NASA Destination Station
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
The International Space Station orbits hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, but it still affects our everyday lives. Find out how at this out-of-this-world exhibit, open through Sept. 2.

Santee Summer Concert Series
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Town Center Community Park East
Need some help deciding what to do Thursday night? Come together for a night of iconic Beatles music with the tribute band Help! Free admission.

GEEKS! The Musical!
8 p.m. at BLKBOX in Hillcrest
Are you experiencing Comic-Con withdrawal? This musical is the cure. It has all the drama of the Con, from finding a rare comic book to finding love on the floor.

SoundDiego Suggestion: The Hold Steady
8 p.m. at the Belly Up
The Hold Steady barged out of Brooklyn, New York in 2004 with booze-soaked alt-country epics and intricate tales of loss and redemption that we haven’t heard since Springsteen was trading licks with Clarence “Big Man” Clemons on 1975’s “Born to Run.” It’d be a shame to miss them at such an intimate spot on the beach.

Friday, August 1

Padres WineFest 2014
5 p.m. at Petco Park
Raise a glass to the Padres before they take on the Atlanta Braves Friday night. Admission to this pre-game party is free with your game ticket.

First Friday – Cumbia Night
8 p.m. in North Park
Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center kicks off its new First Friday (of the Month) program with a night of live music and Cumbia dancing. Come early at 7 p.m. for a beginner dance lesson.

Searsucker Speakeasy
10 p.m. – 1:45 a.m. in the Gaslamp Quarter
Travel back in time to the 1920s when drinking was done behind closed doors. You’ll take a hidden elevator to the speakeasy where 10 secret cocktails await. It’s all part of Searsucker’s 4th birthday celebration. Call 619-233-7327 for reservations.

Saturday, August 2

25th Annual Clairemont Family Day
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at South Clairemont Park
This free event features activities for the kids, like swimming, pony rides and laser tag, and a classic car show.

Bubbles and Bling
11 a.m. – 2 p .m. at the Pacific Beach Bar and Grill in PB
Calling all fashionistas. It’s your chance to score exclusive styles before they hit the runway at Fashion Week San Diego. Plus, a little champagne doesn't hurt.

SoundDiego Suggestion: Weezer
4 p.m. at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
It seems like summers in San Diego just aren’t complete without a performance by everyone’s favorite alt-rock icon at the Del Mar Track. Weezer definitely have the market cornered when it comes to their incredibly catchy pop wall o’sound – and no one sports a cardigan better than lead singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo. With hits like “Buddy Holly,” “Beverly Hills,” “Say It Ain’t So,” and yup, “Undone (the Sweater Song)” – this fun-loving quartet always put on a killer show.

SoundDiego Suggestion: Erik Canzona CD Release
7 p.m. at the Victory Theater
If you’re a fan of local jam/soul/rock quintet the Heavy Guilt, you’ll recognize their lead singer at the Victory Theater on Saturday. Canzona takes to the stage in celebration of his debut solo album, “The Narrows.” Also on the bill are the Silent Comedy’s Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman (as Brothers Grim), and Transfer frontman Matt Molarius. The frontmen of three of San Diego’s biggest rock bands share the stage at Grant Hill’s historic venue for an all-ages show. Bottom line: Don’t miss it.

Sunday, August 3

San Diego Sip ‘N Stroll
11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Pacific Beach
Bring the whole family and check out local PB businesses. There will be live music and lots of activities to keep both you and the kids entertained.

Wizard of Oz Yappy Hour
4 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Hotel del Coronado
There’s no place like the Hotel del Coronado this weekend. The 50th annual “Wizard of Oz” Convention is taking place there, and both you and your pooch can be part of it. Come dressed as your favorite “Oz” character for a chance to win a two-night stay at the iconic hotel. You’ll enjoy themed cocktails, like the Kansas Twister, and can enter your dog in the Toto Photo contest. So click your heels (or paws) and be there.

SoundDiego Suggestion: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
7 p.m. at Viejas Arena
It’s unbelievable, but it seems like this show has flown under the radar since it was announced a few months back. Petty needs no introduction but regardless, he’s one of America’s most legendary songwriters and consistently puts out great album after great album (his most recent, “Hypnotic Eye,” drops July 29). We’re not sure which is more impressive: That he’s been at it with the Heartbreakers since 1976 – or that he’s penned some of the biggest hits radio’s ever heard. Either way, we’ll be “Free Fallin’” when his unmistakable voice fills Viejas Arena on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Flickr/cathyse97]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Shoots 2 on Streets of Little Italy]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:55:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Little-Italy-Suspect-0801.jpg

Two women were shot and injured on the streets of Little Italy after an unknown woman opened fire while attempting to steal the victims’ purses.

The San Diego Police Department said the shooting happened around 9:40 p.m. on July 27 in the 700 block of West Date Street. The suspect remained outstanding as of Friday morning as police released details of the crime for the first time.

According to investigators, the suspect confronted three women standing on the street, wielding a handgun and demanding their purses. Before the victims could react, the woman shot two of them.

Both victims were taken to nearby hospitals and are expected to survive their injuries, police said.

The suspect was spotted by witnesses getting into a light-colored mini-van driven by an unknown male accomplice. The van was last seen fleeing the area eastbound on West Date Street.

For now, police said witnesses describe the suspect as a thin, light-skinned Hispanic woman between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-6. She had light brown hair with highlights possibly pulled back in a ponytail or bun. She wore a puffy brown jacket with a fur-line hood, dark pants and black shoes during the shooting.

The incident remains under investigation. The police department has released a composite sketch of the suspect, pictured above.

Anyone with information on her identity or whereabouts should contact the SDPD’s Central Division at (619) 744-9502 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a $1,000 reward leading to an arrest in the case.

The shooting happened in a residential section of San Diego’s popular Little Italy community, with several businesses and restaurants just blocks away.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego/ SDPD]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crash Widower: World Not as Good a Place]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 09:35:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/joe-combs-joy-gorian5.jpg

Joe Combs says he has lost the love of his life.

Joy Gorian, 78, was killed after the plane she was riding in as a passenger crashed into a parking lot Wednesday between the Kearny Mesa Costco and Target stores.

The fixed wing single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot off Convoy Street about a mile from Montgomery Field.

The investigation into what happened in the minutes before the crash could take months. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the aircraft bounced while attempting to land.

The plane was piloted by Gorian's daughter Devon Logan, 52, who used the radio to send a distress call.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude here,” she told the tower.

The tower advised full throttle and for the pilot to return to the airport if possible.

“I’m going down,” Logan responded.

With that, the planes right wing scraped the top of the Target and crashed into a light pole before hitting the ground.

Combs says his wife and step daughter were returning from a trip to Redlands. Joy was seeking to acquire power of attorney to help her ailing sister.

Combs says he didn’t get to the hospital in time to see her before she died. But he recalled his last conversation with his wife.

“I went over and kissed her and said ‘goodbye honey, I hope you have a good day.’ And that’s the last time I saw her alive,” said Combs.

In the hospital he also talked to pilot Logan, who is his step daughter. She suffered multiple broken bones, including a shattered left wrist, right ankle, broken knees and will need plastic surgery to repair facial wounds, according to Combs. All she said about the accident was that the plane lost power, according to Combs. 

“She was feeling guilty for her mother dying. I told her, Devon, things happen. You loved your mother. Your mother loved you. She’s the most wonderful woman in the world, and this world will not be as good a place today as it was yesterday when she was here,” said Combs.

According to Combs, Gorian is also survived by three sisters, two children, four step children, 12 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

“She’s an adorable, caring person and I’m going to miss her. I do miss her,” said Combs.

The couple met in 1973 and were married in 1986. Gorian was active in the Unitarian Universalist Church and worked at a public library.

“She’s the most wonderful woman in the world. The world is not going to be as well off without her,” said Combs.


<![CDATA["My Best Friend": Parents Mourn Son After Lightning Strike]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 09:40:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/fagnano+family+crop+4.JPG

Friends and family gathered Thursday evening to mourn a 20-year-old USC-bound man who died after being struck by lightning in Venice Beach.

Nick Fagnano had stepped into the water to wash off the sand before leaving the beach July 27 when lightning struck, family members said. He later died at a hospital.

"I was so proud of him for so many things," his father, Jay Fagnano said, holding back tears. "Nick and Mary had an amazing mother-son bond. But Nick and I...he was my best friend, and I think maybe I was his best friend, 'cause we sure did a lot together."

The Los Angeles native graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2012 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team, family members said. Fagnano continued playing when he attended Santa Barbara City College.

After finishing up some general education requirements at Santa Monica College, Fagnano was accepted to USC where he planned to attend in fall.

"When have we known the universe to go so out of its way like that?" Mary Fagnano said earlier this week, reading a letter from a friend. "When what is most needed in the world is love, those who are most loved will often get called."

The USC Price School of Public Policy has set up the Nick Fagnano Memorial Scholarship to support undergraduate transfer students. Anyone who wishes to donate can contact Brent Watson at brw@usc.edu.

Fagnano's parents said donations can also be made to The St. Brendan School Building Fund at info@stbrendanmail.org.

Photo Credit: Mary and Jay Fagnano]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Wildfire Arson Suspect Has "Huge Future:" Friend]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 05:48:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CocosFire+photocredit+Alan+Crosthwaite.jpg

An adult friend of the San Marcos girl who prosecutors say deliberately set the massive Cocos Fire in May describes the teenage suspect as “good-hearted, helpful, and encouraging,” and told NBC 7 she is in “shock and disbelief” about the allegations.

“It’s almost like hearing that someone you know has terminal cancer,” said the suspect’s friend. The two know each other from the Southern California competitive bicycling community.

A San Diego Juvenile Court judge has ordered a mental competency evaluation for the teenager who faces four felony arson charges and one misdemeanor charge in connection with the destructive wildfire that burned close to 40 homes and more than 1,995 acres.

It is NBC 7's policy not to identify minors charged with a crime.

The suspect’s adult friend told NBC 7 she has known the girl for most of her young life. This source spoke with NBC 7 on the condition of anonymity.

“I can’t see that evil side,” the friend responded, when told about the charges filed against the San Marcos girl.

“She is always smiling, she listens well. She was always inspired and achieved her goals. I never said to myself, ‘That girl’s going to be a trouble maker.’”

The friend added: “I never saw an evil bone in her body. She is always very helpful, and she smiles a lot.”

The friend did note that the young suspect is “transitioning from being a kid, to being an adolescent” and could be experiencing problems related to that maturing and growing process.

She confirmed that the suspect is being raised by adoptive parents and could perhaps be facing “too much pressure from her family to win. But that’s just speculation.”

The friend also speculated that the suspect might be “internalizing anger or resentment."

But this source stressed the positives of the young suspect’s personality, and said she “has such a huge future.”

The accused minor is not allowed to leave her home without her parents and must adhere to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

She was expected to return to Juvenile Court on August 20 for the next scheduled court hearing. 

Photo Credit: Alan Crosthwaite]]>
<![CDATA[What Chelsea King's Killer Looks Like Now]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:55:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/John-Gardner-Then-Now.jpg

The man whose face – and scowl – San Diegans will forever remember in connection to the murders of two teens looks different these days – a stark contrast to his appearance in 2010.

It’s been more than four years since John Albert Gardner III was sentenced to life in prison. Today, officials say the inmate’s life behind bars is very quiet compared to the uproar his crimes caused in San Diego.

Gardner was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole on May 15, 2010, for raping and killing Escondido teenager Amber Dubois and Poway teenager Chelsea King. The highly-publicized cases sent shock waves through San Diego County.

In June 2010, Gardner was transferred to California State Prison-Corcoran to begin serving his sentence.

Today, Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), said Gardner is still housed in the Protective Housing Unit (PHU) at the prison and lives an unremarkable existence.

“Officials at California State Prison-Corcoran tell me that inmate Gardner is quiet,” Thornton told NBC 7. “There are no discipline issues.”

Thornton said the PHU – designated for high-profile inmates segregated from other inmates – was activated at the facility in 1992. It’s a small unit with only 24 cells and a maximum capacity of 47 inmates but typically only houses between 15 and 25 offenders.

“It houses inmates whose high notoriety has caused public interest in their cases and is likely to result in great bodily harm if he is placed in general population housing. The PHU also houses inmates whose safety would be endangered by general population housing,” Thornton explained. This can include inmates who have testified in major cases against organized criminal organizations and prison gangs.”

Thornton said some of the inmates besides Gardner who live in the PHU include infamous serial killer and cult leader Charles Manson, Mexican serial killer Juan Corona and Phillip Garrido, the man convicted of kidnapping and raping California girl Jaycee Lee Dugard.

The CDCR spokesperson said the PHU is operated like any other general population unit. Each day, a hot breakfast, sack lunch and hot dinner are served to each inmate. That food is delivered by CDCR staff to the unit, not general population inmates.

Thornton said PHU inmates go to a dayroom and can go to the yard every day. The PHU offers education programs, contact visits, jobs, phone calls and televisions in the inmates’ cells.

“There is a designated day for PHU inmates to go to the law library in a nearby facility,” Thornton said. “When PHU inmates are in the law library, there are no other general population inmates there.”

As in all state prisons, visitation hours are held twice a week on Saturdays and Sundays but because the PHU is so small, Thornton said visits can last longer.

“The PHU is typically very quiet,” Thornton added.

Thornton said the CDCR does not release central files on any offenders, so more specific details on Gardner’s incarceration were unavailable.

The CDCR did release Gardner’s latest prison photograph, however, dated Apr. 4, 2014. In the picture, the bearded and scruffy 35-year-old Gardner looks much different than he did at his 2010 sentencing.

Next month, it’ll be four years since former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved Chelsea’s Law (Assembly Bill 1844), a bill that increased penalties, parole provisions and oversight for sex offenders in the state. It was officially signed into legislation in February 2011.

The bill was championed by Nathan Fletcher and the family of Chelsea King.

As Gardner lives a muted life in prison, the families of his young victims continue to make their voices heard.

Chelsea’s parents, Brent and Kelly King, run the Chelsea’s Light Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at supporting youth and spreading positive change in the community.

Amber’s mother, Carrie McGonigle, formed the search and rescue group, Team Amber, to help families find their missing loved ones. Through her search efforts, McGonigle helped find the remains of missing nursing student Michelle Le in September 2011.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego/ CDCR]]>
<![CDATA[Sip 'n' Stroll in Pacific Beach]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:07:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PB-Sip-Stroll.jpg

The north Pacific Beach community will celebrate local businesses and residents this Sunday with a free outdoor event dubbed the PB “Sip ‘n’ Stroll.”

The gathering, meant to promote the Pacific Beach area as well as brick-and-mortar and “from home” businesses, runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. along Cass Street, between Loring and Opal streets.

The family-friendly event will include activities for kids, including a painting class, live music, local eats and, as the name hints, a wine and sampling area.

The Westcoaster Wine & Beer Garden will offer sips and samples, including fine wines and craft beer from Amplified Ale Works and Pacific Beach Ale House. Four tasters cost $10.

The event, presented by Advent Real Estate & Property Management and Turquoise Cellars & Coffee, is the second annual of its kind. Last year, more than 5,000 people participated in the street fair.

For more details, visit the event Facebook page or this website.

Photo Credit: sipnstrollpb.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cops' Chokehold Killed NYC Man: ME]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:48:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/eric+garner+death+inset+new.jpg

The city medical examiner has ruled the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father whose death in police custody sparked national outrage, a homicide, saying a chokehold killed him.

The medical examiner said compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner's positioning on the ground while being restrained by police during the July 17 stop on Staten Island, caused his death.

Garner's acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease were contributing factors, the medical examiner determined.

A spokesman for Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, who's leading the investigation in the case, said his office had been contacted with the cause and manner of Garner's death but was waiting for the official death certificate and the autopsy report to be issued.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton also said he received the medical examiner's report and that the department will continue to cooperate with district attorney's office. He has previously said he ordered a top-to-bottom redesigning of use-of-force training in the NYPD.  

An amateur video taken during Garner's arrest shows a plainclothes police officer placing him in what appears be a chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy. In the video, Garner can be heard multiple times gasping, "I can't breathe!"

After receiving the medical examiner's findings, Mayor de Blasio released a statement expressing his sympathies to Garner's family and said his administration will continue to work with the Staten Island district attorney and other authorities "to ensure a fair and justified outcome." 

“We all have a responsibility to work together to heal the wounds from decades of mistrust and create a culture where the police department and the communities they protect respect each other -- and that’s a responsibility that Commissioner Bratton and I take very seriously," he said.

De Blasio said he remained "absolutely committed to ensuring that the proper reforms are enacted to ensure that this won’t happen again."

A day before the autopsy results were released, the mayor hosted a reform talk at City Hall in an attempt to ease tensions with communities of color in the wake of Garner's death. The discussion got heated as the Rev. Al Sharpton criticized Bratton and told the mayor that his son, Dante de Blasio, who is black, would be "a candidate for a chokehold" if he weren't the mayor's son. 

Sharpton said Friday that he and Garner's family would make a statement on the autopsy results Saturday at the headquarters of the National Action Network.

Garner's family members and Sharpton met with federal prosecutors last month to press for an investigation into his death. Sharpton said police violated Garner's civil rights while arresting him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, and that led to his death.

The U.S. attorney hasn't commented on the meeting with the Garners. Previously, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is "closely monitoring" the investigation into Garner's death. 

Shortly after Garner died, one officer was stripped of his gun and badge pending an internal NYPD investigation and another was placed on desk duty. Two paramedics and two EMTs were suspended without pay after allegedly failing to provide CPR in a timely manner.

The president of the police officers' union expressed sympathy to Garner's family and friends and said that "police officers don't start their days expecting or wanting something like this to occur in the performance of their duties."

Pat Lynch of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association went on to say, "We believe, however, that if he had not resisted the lawful order of the police officers placing him under arrest, this tragedy would not have occurred."

The case has incited calls for sweeping police department reform. New alleged chokehold videos have emerged in its wake, including one involving an alleged fare beater and another involving a pregnant Brooklyn woman who claims she was put in a chokehold when she questioned officers' requests to move the site of a barbecue.

In addition to running the National Action Network, Al Sharpton is a talk show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Comic-Con Cosplayer Not Assaulted: Police]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:41:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDCC-Preview-18.jpg

A teen Comic-Con cosplayer initially thought to have been brutally assaulted is now believed to have suffered her head injuries in a fall, police said Thursday.

Harbor police said in a news release issued Thursday afternoon that the 17-year-old Riverside County girl in town for Comic-Con was not the victim of a sexual assault or beating, as earlier thought, but rather suffered head injuries after falling six feet.

Police said the girl was climbing a gate at the Marriott Hotel after an altercation with an older man. That’s when she fell and was found at 1 a.m. Sunday near the pool at the hotel on Harbor Drive, near the San Diego Convention Center.

Since the incident, police have had difficulty piecing together the circumstances because the girl did not remember what happened.

The case attracted widespread online attention – first by bloggers questioning whether an assault of the girl was a hoax – and then by mainstream media, including national news outlets. Photos of her dressed as a Roger Rabbit cosplayer, or dressed in character, were widely circulated online.

Harbor police said because of this widespread attention they investigated the case extensively, including reviewing footage from multiple surveillance cameras and by questioning Comic-Con attendees

“Her injuries and physical evidence at the scene were consistent with a fall,” the news release said.

The girl suffered several brain bleeds and is still recovering, her family has said

A 29-year-old man, Justin Kalior, whom the girl got into a fight with before her fall, was arrested on unrelated allegations of having sexual contact with a minor and providing her alcohol. He will not face any other charges, police said.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed information on the victim's condition to Harbor police. We have removed the incorrect information and regret the error.

Photo Credit: Garrett Ng]]>
<![CDATA[Tentative Settlement Reached in SDPD Civil Lawsuit]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:25:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD_San_Diego_police_gener.jpg

A tentative settlement has been reached in the civil lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of a former San Diego Police Officer convicted of multiple sex crimes committed while on duty and in uniform.

NBC 7 obtained court documents signed Wednesday indicating a tentative agreement has been reached between the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, and the City of San Diego. 

Trial had been set to begin August 12 in Jane Doe's civil suit regarding the traffic stop with former San Diego Police Officer Anthony Arevalos in March 2011.

"The parties have tentatively reached a settlement, and there are some things to be finalized. We will be jointly making a statement later,” a spokesperson for the plaintiff's attorneys told NBC 7.

Arevalos was convicted of eight counts of sexual battery, assault and asking for bribes.

Prosecutors had said a routine traffic stop involving "Jane Doe" turned into a sexual assault when then-Officer Arevalos suggested the two of them go into a nearby convenience store bathroom.

The two entered the restroom with the agreement that she would give him her panties, and in exchange he would not charge her for a DUI, prosecutors said.

Once inside, the victim said, Arevalos touched and rubbed her genitals. A Superior Court judge threw out two criminal counts involving that allegation, however, because of how evidence was shared between legal teams.

The evidence was ruled to still be relevant to the civil case, however.

No details on the agreement were released.

Unless one side decides against the settlement agreement, a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4 to discuss terms.

<![CDATA[San Marcos to Shut Off Splash Pads]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 09:00:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san-marcos-heatwave-hispani.jpg

Starting Friday, San Diego County will officially be under a Stage 2 Drought Alert, so San Marcos is cutting off one source of summer fun to help meet conservation rules.

The city plans to shut off water to five splash pads Friday, located in Sunset, San Elijo, Buelow, Mulberry and Discovery Lake parks.

Officials expects to save between 8,000 and 12,000 gallons of water every day – roughly the size of one of its community pools, which are still open.

But some parents are not going with the flow, since inland communities like San Marcos are sizzling during these unusually hot summer days.

For some, splash pads have become an oasis in the neighborhood since they are a free, close source of kiddie fun.

“If it is not available to us, we will have to find other ways of entertaining our kids that will take a toll on our budget,” said Mayra Molano, a San Marcos parent.

In addition to the splash pads, every city fountain that is not using recycled water will be turned off.

City officials say the splash pads must run off potable water to ensure the children’s health and safety.

The prohibition of the water playgrounds is indefinite in San Marcos.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Powerball Winner Plans to Give Part of $60M to Charity]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:29:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/217*120/jack+long+web.PNG

Southern California's latest multi-millionaire says a love of Popsicles brought him his newfound wealth.

Jack Long, 76, a single father who raised two daughters and now uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, bought a California Lottery Powerball ticket on a whim while buying a Popsicle at Cardenas Market in Fontana.

He checked the numbers a few days later.

"I kept looking at it, looking at it," Long said during a press conference Thursday. "I could see the numbers and I couldn't believe it."

He won the $60 million jackpot.

Long said he would use the money to set up family trusts, pay for eye surgery to improve his sight and buy a faster wheelchair.

"I get tired of this five or six miles an hour stuff," he said. 

He'll also give money to various local charities, including an organization that helps homeless children.

"It's definitely more money than I'll ever be able to use," Long said. "Fontana has been good to me and my kids. So that's where I start, is in Fontana."

Long refers to his pre-lottery life as "five or six completely different lives." He's worked for construction and investment companies.

He had an active life, spending time water skiing and drag racing.

He doesn't expect many relatives to start appearing and asking for money, he said.

"I do not believe blood's thicker than water," he said.

<![CDATA[Facebook Goes Down for Many Users]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:09:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edt-facebook-480461043.jpg

Facebook was down on Friday for many users, who received an error message instead of access to the social networking service.

“Sorry, something went wrong,” the message on Facebook said. “We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can."

The hashtag FacebookDown was trending on Twitter.

Facebook now says service is back.

"Earlier this morning, some people had trouble accessing Facebook for a short time," the company said in a statement. "We quickly investigated and have fully restored service for everyone. We're sorry for the inconvenience."A 

Sgt. Burton Brink from the LA County Sheriff's Department amused Twitter users with a tweet that appeared to indicate that people were reporting the outage to authorities. "#Facebook is not a Law Enforment issue, please don't call us about it being down, we don't know when FB will be back up!" he said in the Twitter rant.

Capt. Britta Steinbrenner later disputed the claim and said her office was not aware of any 911 calls about Facebook.

It was the second recent outage. Facebook went down in June in a disruption that appeared to stretch across the world as users from the United Kingdom to India reported no service. In that instance, service came back for some in less than an hour.

Facebook said it had 1.32 billion users worldwide as of the end of June.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Del Mar Suspends Turf Racing After Horse Injury]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:14:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edt71485493.jpg

Del Mar racetrack officials have suspended turf races after another horse was seriously injured Thursday, bringing the total of race-related, equine injuries to eight since the season's start.

During the seventh race of the day, a filly named "Serious" was badly hurt while sprinting on the turf.

It's unclear what kind of injuries the horse sustained, but the animal will be taken from Del Mar to Los Alamitos, the home base of its trainer and owner. 

In response to the incident, Del Mar officials have canceled turf racing for the next three days as crews perform more maintenance on the track. 

They hope to return to regular racing on Wednesday.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club began making changes to its new turf Sunday after seven horses were euthanized due to race-related injuries in just the first ten days of the season. 

Four of those deaths have been after falls on the new turf.

Another horse died after a morning workout on Opening Day, July 17. 

Officials say a number of elements factor into a race horse's injury -- not just the type of track -- but adjustments like extra watering and aerating the grass are being made. 

Officials also moved the inner rail 18 feet so horses wouldn't be running on as many divots and holes in the turf.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crash Investigation Begins]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:28:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Plane-Crash-Kearny-6.jpg

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched its investigation into the fatal plane crash that left a passenger dead and a pilot injured in the parking lot of a busy Kearny Mesa shopping center.

The fixed wing, single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between a Target store and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. It landed near parked cars but away from the main entrances to the stores.

The aircraft missed bystanders on the ground, though a couple of people did sustain minor burns trying to help the pilot and her passenger out of the wreckage.

“It was really heroic on the part of those people with those fire extinguishers that put out that fire quickly as they did and then got the two occupants out of the airplane," said NTSB Air Safety Investigator Tom Little at a news briefing Thursday.

The 52-year-old pilot survived the crash, while the 78-year-old passenger suffered serious burns and later died at the hospital. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's officer identified the passenger Thursday as Joy Gorian.

“The pilot has survived and is cognizant of her surroundings, I’m told, and is recovering," Little said. He did not know the extent of her injuries.

What happened in the minutes before the crash remains unclear. Little said the plane had flown to Riverside and back earlier in the day.

“The initial report that I have, which still needs to be followed up, was the aircraft bounced on a landing at the Montgomery Airport on runway 27 right I believe. Subsequently, a go-around was begun and the pilot did radio she was having problems and she was losing power. That was her last transmission," he said.

As the plane went down, the right wing scraped the roof of the Target before hitting a light pole and crashing.

The investigation into the cause of the crash could be lengthy. Little said investigations like this usually last six to nine months, but could take up to a year.

In the next two or three weeks, the NTSB and FAA will meet with plane manufacturer Mooney and engine manufacturer Continental Motors.

“At that time, we’ll do a detailed examination of the engine and the air frame, and hopefully by that time we will have been able to talk with the surviving pilot as to what actually occurred to the best of her memory,” Little said.

Aviation safety consultant Rich Martindell, a pilot himself for the past 50 years, said one of the benefits of the crash is that there is a survivor.

“Having someone that was on the plane to talk to [helps] facilitate the investigation,” he said. “These planes don’t have black boxes so the only way to know what happened is by radio calls or talking to someone flying. [That’s] very helpful for the investigation.”

Crews were in the process of removing the plane from the parking lot Thursday afternoon. The wreckage will then be taken to a salvage yard in Phoenix.

Little said the pilot had a medical certificate and was legal to fly, but did not identify her.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is co-owned but registered to San Diego resident William Logan. Family members told NBC 7 William Logan was not on the aircraft when it crashed and said Devon Logan – the other co-owner – was one of the women aboard. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Outbreak Unlikely in California: Expert]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:11:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PW_VO_EBOLA_MEETING_KNSD4HOQ_1200x675_313738307967.jpg

The Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in Africa, but one San Diego doctor says an outbreak in California is very unlikely.

Dr. Nancy Crum-Cianflone, an infectious disease physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital, says the chances are so small because of how the disease is spread.

“It's not transmitted through the air, It's not transmitted simply by touching someone. You really have to have contact with someone's bodily fluids," Crum-Cianflone said.

This means you couldn’t catch this from someone sitting next to you on an airplane unless they are coughing and sneezing so much, you inhale or ingest their secretions.

“Just us sitting here talking, there's really no risk. That's the big difference between this and things that are much more contagious, like the influenza viruses, which you can pick them up just by breathing the air," she said.

As of Thursday, more than 1,200 were infected with the virus in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dr. Crum-Cianflone says at this point, the biggest concern for health care workers is travel history.

“If someone has recently come back the last week or two from West Africa or has been in contact with someone who's been sick from West Africa and has a flu-like symptoms, I think we should think about Ebola and then do the appropriate testing," she said.

The Group to Eradicate Resistant Microorganisms – or GERM – Commission, a group of infectious disease doctors in San Diego County, met Wednesday night to discuss how to be proactive in the rare chance of an outbreak here.

<![CDATA[Troops Frustrated with Overseas Car-Moving Service]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:05:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/international+auto+logistics+santee.JPG

 Some military members say the company newly contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to move their cars for free when they relocate overseas is operating in the slow lane.

Troops endure very long wait times, and even worse, some say when they go to pick up their car, the vehicle isn't available.

The corner lot of International Auto Logistics (IAL) on Woodside in Santee is packed with the cars of military members. Some cars have been dropped off for transport overseas, while others are there to be picked up.

“I came this morning to the vehicle processing center to pick up my vehicle and found out from the manager that my vehicle's not here and they are not expected to receive another shipment for a week, said a Marine, who didn't want to give his full name or show his face.

Sailor Yuki Chang said she was told on July 3 it would take 25 days for her car to arrive in San Diego from Hawaii.

She was expecting her car to be here Monday, so she flew down from Oakland to pick it up.

Four days later, her car is still not here, but she is waiting.

Chang said she tried to call the office before flying down, but got no answer.

The Marine had the same experience.

“It just goes to voicemail, says the voicemail's full and then hangs up on you,” he told NBC 7.

In May, the DoD awarded IAL with the multi-million dollar contract to transport troops’ personal cars overseas.

IAL points to the company's website where service members can track their car online to see where it is on the journey’s process. The website also warns the arrival location may change.

Adding to the frustration the military members and families who talked with NBC 7 said the wait time to talk to an employee of IAL in Santee about a pick-up was more than four hours -- even with an appointment.

About 20 people waiting inside Thursday. The Marine said another service member inside was on page two of the waiting list: “He's been in there waiting for his car for three hours, and fortunately he was able to find his car.”

NBC 7 was told by a company representative that as long as service members are in the door by 3 p.m., they will be seen on the same day, no matter how long it takes.

IAL spokesperson Amanda Nunez sent this statement in response to NBC 7’s request for comment:

"In a community like San Diego, that has such a large military community, it's important to us that the families we work with here know how committed we are to doing the absolute best job we can. We began working with military personnel in May. We have been growing, adding customer support personnel and expanding the volume of customers we serve."

<![CDATA[CT Mom of Hot Car Boy Urges Caution]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 07:20:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ben+seitz+ridgefield.jpg

The mother of a Ridgefield boy who died after being left in a hot car has started a blog to raise awareness of heatstroke in children and help others avoid the tragedy she suffered.

Lindsay Rogers-Seitz told the Associated Press that she forgives her husband for leaving 15-month-old Benjamin in the car while he went to work at Owl Technologies on July 7, resulting in the child’s death.

The boy’s father, Kyle Seitz, was supposed to bring Ben to daycare before going to work, but that didn't happen. According to Lindsay, at the end of the day, Kyle went to the daycare to pick up Ben, but when he learned Ben wasn't there, he asked the staff at the daycare if his wife had picked him up earlier in the day.  He was told she had not, and so he went back to his car, found Ben and then rushed him to the hospital, Rogers-Seitz said.

“The profound grief and trauma that we were going through was something we could never verbalize,” Rogers-Seitz explained. “How do I live the rest of my life? Do I just break down right now in hysterics, and just not live?”

She decided to channel her grief into activism, and now the couple is spreading the word about hyperthermia in children.

“One night we were sitting together and [Kyle Seitz] said, ‘You know, Lindsay, I just can’t let another family feel this pain,’” Rogers-Seitz recalled.

Rogers-Seitz sprang into action, creating a Web site, titled “The Gift of Ben,” to share her son’s story and help educate other parents.

“A week after the tragic death of my 15-month-old son on July 7, 2014, I began researching – everything and anything – and thinking,” Rogers- Seitz writes.

It was a timely decision – today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

“The Gift of Ben” presents facts and figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including frightening statistics about the prevalence of heat stroke in children.

According to the NHTSA, hyperthermia is the leading cause of non-crash-related death in children under the age of 15. Rogers-Seitz says 111 children have died in hot cars over the past three years.

“This isn’t an anomaly,” Rogers-Seitz said. “It’s something that has been happening.”

She proposed roundtable talks to generate conversation and explore “ideas of how we can potentially move forward and work together and find solutions,” including conversations with car seat companies, child safety advocates, academics, health and medical professionals and other families who have been affected.

Rogers-Seitz said one of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to believe it will never happen to them. She admitted she doesn’t know yet how to find a solution, but the first step is to talk about it.

“I challenge manufacturers, agencies and politicians to get together with other interested parties, including victims and psychologists, and let's figure this out,” she wrote.

In the meantime, she said, make a habit of double checking your car before you walk away, and place valuable items in the back seat with your child. Teach kids that cars are not for playing and store keys out of their reach. Ask your child’s school or daycare to call right away if he or she doesn’t show up on time.

Rogers-Seitz also launched a blog Wednesday – a more delicate and personal forum.

“Lying in bed last night, I began realizing what an integral role the press has in deciding what ‘the story’ will be. The truth is that there is a bigger picture out there – an ongoing political and intellectual debate about the history of these effort to elicit change and how to go about it in the future,” she wrote in her first post.

“I ask that we move beyond the sensationalization of the events of July 7th to deal with the real issues at hand – that will continue to affect hundreds of more children in the future if nothing is done," she added.

Rogers-Seitz is standing by her husband of 12 years and said the two are taking comfort in each other’s support.

“We can deal with it together, and we’re finding peace in that,” Rogers-Seitz said.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Rogers-Seitz ]]>
<![CDATA[Workers Balk at Market Basket Hires]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 05:32:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP418236453329.jpg

Whether it's for real or just a psychological warfare stunt by the new Market Basket leadership is far from clear, but full-page newspaper ads by the supermarket chain's co-CEOs promoting a three-day job fair for replacement workers provoked a range of reactions Thursday from protesting workers.

"Good luck trying to fill all our jobs! They don't know what we do in there," said Linda Kulis, who works in accounts receivable in the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, headquarters.

"I just started laughing and said, 'This is a joke,'" said Mike Feather, an 18-year company veteran who works in its New Bedford store.

"They've fired people, they've tried to scare people, and I think that's more of what this is: Scare tactics," said Chris Dick, director of the Salem, New Hampshire, Market Basket.

They're among thousands of Market Basket employees who have been protesting for two weeks and urging customers to boycott the 71 stores until Arthur T. Demoulas, fired June 23, is reinstated as CEO.

In the ad, new co-CEOs Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton said the first two days of the job fair, to be held in Andover, will be for current employees looking to apply for higher-up positions.

"I don't think there will be any Market Basket associates that are going to be willing to step up and work for this regime," Dick said.

Thornton and Gooch released a statement defending the job fair In a statement shortly before 5 p.m.

"We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back," they said. "We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful for the sake of their employees."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Keeping Your Garden Green During a Drought]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:33:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/water18.jpg

Sometimes saving water around the garden is as simple as turning off the hose.
“We get more plants that are killed by overwatering than anything else,” said Patty Cordero with Armstrong Garden Center.
She said people are often watering more than necessary. That’s why the popular San Diego nursery is giving homeowners tips to save water around the yard.
The first tip is to watch when you water. Cordero said it is best to water early in the morning and not water between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. She said it is more efficient to water during the early morning hours.
And when you water, it’s best to water deeper, not more often. In other words, you can increase your watering time, but not water as many days of the week. A moisture meter can tell you if the water is still wet around a plant.

For some plants, you may have to dig down and see if the root ball is still wet. If you are seeing burnt edges at the end of the plant, that may be from not watering deep enough because of a salt build up.
Another tip is to put mulch around your trees, plants and garden. A good bark cover or mulch, “keep the moisture in and they help keep the weeds down,” said Cordero.
New California water restrictions ban watering down sidewalks and driveways. There is also no more washing a car or boat without a shut-off nozzle on the hose. Cordero said that's also a must when watering around the house.
“Don’t have water just going willy-nilly all over the place,” said Cordero. “Get a handle on that, get a nozzle or get a watering want.”

<![CDATA[Azano Blames Ex-Officer for Campaign Scandal: Docs]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:53:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Azano-0609_2.jpg

 The Mexican multi-millionaire accused of illegally contributing more than $600,000 to San Diego political campaigns is blaming a convicted former cop for orchestrating the scandal in which they are both implicated, according new court filings.

Jose Susumo Azano Matsura is suspected of giving illicit contributions to the campaigns of former Mayor Bob Filner, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas and other candidates. Prosecutors say Azano was trying to gain influence with local politicians to help develop a “Miami West” on San Diego’s bayfront.

However, Azano maintained his innocence in the motion filed Wednesday by his attorney Knut S. Johnson, which requests that prosecutors release evidence withheld by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office.

Johnson suspects that evidence could include phone calls and electronic surveillance intercepted by the government without the defense’s knowledge. A defense attorney confirmed in June that at least one wiretap was used to build a case against Azano and other defendants.

Wednesday’s motion alleges that Azano became embroiled in the finance scandal through his association with Ernesto Encinas, a 30-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department who provided security for Azano.

According to the court filing, Azano approached Encinas in 2012 to ask where he should donate $100,000 to help police widows.

Instead of recommending a foundation, Encinas told Azano to give the money to “a campaign of a ‘friend’ running for political office who would help police widows,” the motion states.

That “friend” turned out to be Dumanis who was running for San Diego mayor at the time.

The motion says before Encinas was charged in the affair, he became a confidential informant for the FBI and tried to get Azano to admit his part in the scandal while secretly recording him.

Johnson says during that recorded conversation, Azano repeatedly denied any involvement in illegal campaign contributions or other legal violations.

In March, Encinas pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S. and filing a false tax return.

The court documents discuss another defendant who has pleaded guilty in the case: Marc Chase, the owner of Symbolic Motor Cars.

Chase admitted in April to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions with cash paid to him by a foreign businessman.

In his plea agreement, Chase said he recruited employees, friends and family to donate $500 each to hide the source of the funds.

However, Wednesday’s filings allege that Chase manipulated Azano into buying 60 percent of Symbolic, so when Azano gave Chase a $380,000 check in Oct. 2012, he says he thought that money was going toward the car business.

Instead, Encinas instructed Chase to put part of that money into local campaigns, the motion says.

Azano also alleges that an old legal feud between he and Sempra Energy led to the current federal charges against him.

The energy company had gone head to head with an Ensenada landowner – backed by Azano – in civil cases, with Sempra naming Azano in a counter-suit against the Ensenada resident.

So when Sempra became the target of a U.S. Attorney investigation over foreign corrupt practices, prosecutors also set their sights on Azano.

The charges against the company were later dismissed "based on Sempra's investigation of itself," the motion says, and a former special agent in charge of the San Diego FBI became the chief of corporate security at Sempra.  

Johnson says it appears that the government pursued Azano on behalf of the energy company.

As a Department of Homeland Security investigation progressed, Azano claims he, his family and his employees were harassed by “rogue” agents. That harassment included threats to his personal pilot, a pat down of Azano’s young child and extended border searches.

The suspect’s defense attorney has requested a federal court hearing on Aug. 25 to address these new court filings and allegations. Prosecutors say it could be September, at the earliest, before they file an updated complaint that lays out all his alleged fraud.

Azano remains under house arrest at his Coronado mansion.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[35 New Parking Spots Unveiled in Hillcrest]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:58:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/University-Avenue-HIllcrest.jpg

To address parking issues in Hillcrest and Mission Hills, 35 new parking spaces were unveiled Thursday on the corner of Washington and Front streets.

The lot of new spaces is at the site of the future Hillcrest-Mission Hills Library. San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria worked with city staffers and community members to allocate the site for the new parking spaces until construction on the new library begins, likely in spring 2016.

The parking spaces were unveiled in a ribbon-cutting on Thursday morning.

The lot will be open 24 hours a day. Fees will be 50 cents per hour, with a maximum parking time of 12 hours.

<![CDATA[Padres Trade Chris Denorfia to Mariners]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:36:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chris+denorfia.jpg

The Padres made another trade on Thursday, sending popular outfielder Chris Denorfia to the Mariners in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers, RHP Stephen Kohlscheen and OF Abraham Almonte.

Kohlscheen, 25, has split the 2014 season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, going 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA ), 55 strikeouts and 10 walks over 38 relief appearances. Drafted by the Mariners in the 45th round of the 2010 Draft, Kohlscheen does not have overpowering stuff but has found ways to get hitters out consistently. One negative is his tendency to elevate pitches (probably because he's 6'6") and allowing home runs.

Almonte is also 25 years old. He's hitting .267 (74-for-277) with 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 31 RBI and 42 runs scored in 72 games for Triple-A Tacoma. The switch-hitter has also played in 27 Major League games for Seattle this season.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Almonte was signed by the Yankees as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Early in his minor league career he struggled offensively, and eventually overcame alcohol addiction. After a trade to the Mariners, Almonte's bat showed vast improvement. He hit 15 home runs and earned a late-season call up to the big league club.

In Denorfia, the Padres are losing an above-average defensive outfielder who's extremely tough against left-handed pitching. He became a Padres fan favorite with his constant hustle.

That makes three trades for the Friars, and there are still 50 minutes left until the trade deadline. Is this the last move to be made?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crash Pilot Continues to Recover]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:05:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Devon-Logan-FB.jpg

The pilot of a small plane that crashed in the parking lot of a Kearny Mesa shopping center remained hospitalized Thursday, recovering from injuries.

The fixed wing, single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between a Target store and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street at around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. It landed near parked cars but away from the main entrances to the stores, missing bystanders.

The pilot survived but her 78-year-old passenger, identified as Joy Gorian, suffered serious burns and later died at a local hospital.

On Thursday, investigators said the pilot – who is certified to fly – was conscious but will be given more time to recover before being interviewed by officials.

Family members have identified the woman as 52-year-old Devon Logan. A photo obtained by NBC 7 shows Logan with her husband at a fundraiser for Makua, a Point Loma-based organization that raises money for foster children. Logan is an active volunteer with the organization.

NBC 7 spoke with former neighbors who said the Logan family is great. They’re thankful Devon survived.

“It was miraculous – landing the plane like that,” said former neighbor Lenore Bratley.

On Thursday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it had launched its preliminary investigation into the crash. Officials began hauling away portions of the wreckage from the parking lot.

The pieces of the plane will be taken to Phoenix were the Federal Aviation Administration will continue to examine the evidence and assist the NTSB in the investigation.

Officials said that investigation could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete.

At this point, the events leading up to the crash remain unclear. An NTSB official said the aircraft had flown to Riverside and back to San Diego earlier in the day.

It bounced on a landing at Montgomery Field on runway 27 and shortly thereafter, the pilot radioed a distress call saying she was having problems and was losing power. As the plane went down, the right wing scraped the roof of the Target before hitting a light pole and crashing.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>